South African Rugby At A Crossroad The End Is Near

UPDATE: 23 November

This post originated from our prediction following Allister Coetzee’s first loss to Ireland at Newlands. Just replace Ireland with Australia, Argentina, England or Italy and you get the exact same result. Coetzee now had 12 matches to show at least some sign of improvement , yet the team is showing no such thing, and getting progressively worse with each game! The End Is Near Here

Did you enjoy the Ireland game? Well, get ready to see a whole lot more of where that came from! After yet another historical loss South African rugby is finding itself at a crossroad, and if decisive action and smart decisions are not made (not exactly something which South African rugby administrators are renowned for), it will be the end of the once mighty Springbok.

What follows below will be a long and detailed criticism of SA Rugby, examining why the Springboks are currently breaking records for all the wrong reasons, and zooming in on the Ireland test match as an example. If you like sugar coating and do not want to face cold, hard facts, then we suggest you close this page…else read on.

The Brutal Truth About South African Rugby

This post is being written with mixed emotions a bit of nostalgia, the longing for the once dominant Springboks. Sadness, knowing that South African rugby is in all likelihood going to get worse from here on in, and above all else anger for poor decision making and off-field issues, which is one of the primary reasons why South Africa rugby is finding itself in the current mess, it is in right now.

After yet another historical loss, Allister Coetzee’s troops made history on, 11 June 2016, becoming the 1st ever Springbok team, in 110-years, to lose against Ireland on South African soil..something Fikile Mbalula can be immensely proud of because hey, the squad is getting transformed!

We hate to say we told you so, but we did – in our preview for the Ireland vs South Africa match we heavily criticized the Springboks, exposed their weaknesses, and mentioned that Ireland will in all likelihood win the match.

On our Facebook page, we got heavily criticized, by some, being called unpatriotic and even being labeled as racist for continuously moaning about transformation, yet everything we mentioned did materialize…unfortunately! We are not boasting or “bragging” it is not that we have future vision, what happened yesterday was a long time coming, and you certainly don’t have to be a rugby genius to have known that the Springboks will struggle against the Irish, here is why:

Why Is South African Rugby Going Backwards?

The Springboks were horrible in their 1st test against Ireland, they did not have a clue what to do, and got outsmarted by Ireland in each and every aspect of the match. On offense South Africa were terrible, continuously trying to spread the ball wide without creating space. The defense was equally bad, there was certainly no lack of intent by the players, and they made some huge tackles, however, the problem was with the outdated defensive pattern, which any high school coach would know how to penetrate by now, it’s all very 2009.
Offense: When you compare the offensive abilities from the Springboks against that of New Zealand, or even England / Australia, it is clear to see South African rugby are light years behind. The Boks tried to be innovative, they tried to be creative, you could literally see the effort on their faces, however it failed miserably and can only be described as, downright embarrassing!

Problem 1: Offensive Coach Mzwandile Stick.

Who is in charge of the South African backline? Who is drawing up the strategy and instructing players what to do? The answer…Mzwandile Stick, the assistant coach of the worst offensive team in Super Rugby, the Southern Kings. Let’s pause here for a second. How did Mzwandile Stick become part of the national setup, what has he done to proof himself worthy of such an important position? Let us look at his resume…

Mzwandile Stick Teams Coached:

  • 2013 – Eastern Province U/21 (assistant coach)
  • 2014-2015 – Eastern Province Kings (VODACOM CUP, head coach)
  • 2016 – Southern Kings (current)
  • 2016 – South Africa (current)

Mzwandile Stick has done NOTHING, to deserve his spot as Springbok assistant coach. The appointment of Stick as South African assistant coach (in charge of offense) is equivalent, in the business world, to promoting a newly hired secretary to CEO.

All teams Mzwandile Stick coached in the past has dreadful records, there was a long list of more qualified candidates, Johan Ackerman for one, yet Stick got the job, simply because of his skin colour!

That is where Fikile Mbalula and his ridiculous transformation policies comes into play, with the South African selectors being forced to chose a candidate based on skin colour rather than competence, something which is going to cost South African rugby many test matches in the future thus, get ready for much more of what you saw against Ireland!

Problem 2: OFFENSE – Lack of vision and creativity from players.

Mzwandile Stick is terrible, and we largely blame him for the horrid performance against Ireland, however, there are other factors which contributed to the loss as well, such as lack of vision and creativity from players.

In the 39th to 41st minute, towards the end of the 1st half, South Africa had a golden opportunity to score against a 14-man Ireland team, yet they were unable to cross the line. The reason for this? Lack of vision and creativity below follows but a few examples.

Example 1


South Africa Cant Offload

When you examine the above two images DeAlende broke through the defensive line, 8-meters away from the try line he gets tackled, however, he is in perfect position to offload the ball, a simple pass, and South Africa would have scored.

The Problem? He has no one to offload to! It is basic stuff, there should be a runner on his left shoulder and right shoulder, (something which New-Zealand has perfected) yet, LeRoux is in a stagnant position. Number 22, Elton Jantjies,and 11, Movovo are both in perfect position to run of his left shoulder and receive the offload, yet they are running away from him! Can this be contributed to poor coaching or lack of vision by the players, we think it is a combination of both!

Example 2

Huge Overlap

As can be seen from the above image, South Africa has a HUGE overlap, with 4 on2 players. Willie LeRoux has the ball, he should simply pass it to the player next to him, or he could even give a kick with a huge open space on the left side of the field.  Yet he opts to…

wrong decision by willie leroux

Instead of drawing in players, by working the ball through the hands, Le Roux makes a long pass to Movovo, this simply allowed the 2 Irish defenders to drift out wide, effectively killing the overlap.

Below is another example of how South Africa were / are unable to capitalize on opportunities and work the ball through the hands


The above image is a shocker, it is a 4 on 1 attack 5-meteres away from the try line, again LeRoux has the ball, all he needs to do is give a short inside pass to Number 13, Lionel Mapoe, who can either score himself or draw in the last Irish defender and work the ball to Movovo. Yet LeRoux, who had a forgettable test match, made a long pass to number 6, Francois Louw, allowing the Irish defender to drift out wide and work him into touch, which is exactly what happened.

Problem 3:Coaches And Outdated Defensive Strategy.

This is a MASSIVE problem for South Africa rugby, a huge concern, which is going to result in the Springboks super-tubing down the IRB World Rugby rankings list.  Allister Coetzee WAS a brilliant coach, well spoken, smart and brilliant on defense. Notice we used the word WAS, here is the brutal truth – Coetzee’s appointment as head coach, combined with Stick as assistant coach is going to be disastrous for South African rugby.

Coetzee is bringing the exact same defensive strategy he used with the Stormers, to the Springboks. The problem? It is an outdated defensive strategy. Once upon a time, Coetzee’s defensive pattern was so good that no team could penetrate the Stormers line, however as Coetzee continued to use the same defensive pattern opposition teams started deciphering it.

A notable example was when the Sharks played the Stormers in a semi-final at Newlands, the Stormers were greatly favoured to win, however, the Sharks outsmarted Coetzee and the Stormers. The way to break Coetzee’s defensive line is by giving chip kicks over the top, getting in behind the defensive line.

The Sharks were the first team to realise how to penetrate, Coetzee and the Stormers, defensive pattern which resulted in them winning a semi-final at Newlands against all odds!

Fast forward a couple of years and it is a case of Deja Vu for Coetzee, watch the game again and pay close attention to Ireland attacking. You would notice Ireland gave a number of chip and grubber kicks, to get in behind the Springboks defensive line, it worked for them and it paid dividends, despite playing with 14-men.

The problem for SA rugby? Coetzee has NO plan B! This has been proven at Super Rugby level when the Stormers could no longer rely on their defense to win matches. Coetzee tried to make a switch to more attacking and offensive play and it failed miserably. We all have seen time and again that Coetzee is NOT an offensive coach. This is spelling disastrous for SA rugby, with Coetzee’s outdated defensive strategy, combined with the fact that he can’t play offense, and has ZERO help from Mzwandile Stick (who is probably only going to make things worse), are all indications that South African rugby is in for some (very) dark days, brace yourself!

Problem 4: Political Interference

Political interference is another primary reason why the Springboks is currently on a downward spiral. South Africa has some brilliant young black players who are starting to come through the ranks.  However, sadly their careers will be destroyed as they will be forced into test match rugby before they are ready, simply because South African rugby must have a 50% black to white ratio (is that not racism in its purest form, and we again call on the IRB to intervene.)

One should not underestimate the psychological toll political interference has on the Springboks, in the build up to the test there were political parties such as the ANC youth league and EFF threatening to disrupt the match, simply because they felt there were not enough black players in the team.

The selectors and coach is under pressure because of political interference, because the best side can not be selected and they must pay attention to the colour ratio.

White players are under pressure worrying about their future, uncertain if they will retain their positions or if they will need to step down for a quota player.

Black players are  under immense psychological pressure because of political interference. When a new up and coming black player gets selected, chances are, he will always wonder at the back of his mind, whether he is there because he deserves it, or if he is there to fulfill a quota requirements. Such thoughts creates doubts and can have an immense influence of said players performance.

The above is hugely unfair to both black and white players, as well as to South African rugby supporters.

We are only at the start of the political interference era, with the deadline set for 2019 so things will get progressively worse over the next couple of years, however one can already start to question some of the selection made, and whether it was done on merit or because of quota requirements, these questionable selections include:

  • JP Petersen – A long-serving veteran of the game, who has contributed a great deal to South African rugby but is no longer the best, in his position.
  • Lwazi Mvovo – The selection of Mvovo at 30 years of age makes little sense. He will be 34 when the World Cup kicks of in 2019, much too old for a winger. You generally want to select your best up and coming young players to start building a squad, the non-selection of Ruan Combrinck leaves much to be desired. Mvovo had a dreadful game, and despite getting plenty of ball he could not capitalize.
  • Siya Kolisi – A good player, but not a starter! South Africa has a wealth of talent in the loose forward department,  Derick Minnie or even Warren Whitley will make for a better selection at flanker, again Kolisi is a perfect impact player BUT not a good starter!
Conclusion – What lies ahead

So there you have it, the brutal truth about South African rugby where they currently find themselves and where they are heading, it does not make for pretty reading if you are a South African supporter. Our prediction for the South Africa, Ireland test? The Springboks are looking horribly out of shape, not having a clue what to do on either offense or defense. We reckon Ireland will outsmart the Boks and take the 2nd test match thus, winning the series with South Africa getting a consultation win in the 3rd match (hopefully!)

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